African Travel seeing rise in younger travelers

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Like most traditional upscale travel, the main demographic for African safaris has long been the 55-plus market, people who have both the money and time to do it right.

And while everyone from river cruise companies to tour operators and hotels in recent years have been highly focused on courting millennials, Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel Inc. says he is seeing a rise in a different generation of travelers, those aged 35 to 50 with six-figure incomes.

"I like to call them the executive spenders," Banda said. "These are people who are getting married later in life or have been married for a while but don't have children and they are making incomes of $100,0000 or more. These are people who have become accustomed to their parents' traveling style. So it is really great to see this new demographic interested in luxury travel."

Sherwin Banda
Sherwin Banda

And like the younger and much-talked about millennial demographic, he says, these executive spenders are very focused on sustainability.

"They will buy travel and experiences focused on some kind of sustainable efforts," Banda said. "They want to make sure that their travel dollars are truly going to make a difference to local communities and wildlife efforts in Africa, and that fits so beautifully with what we do at African Travel."

African Travel is part of The Travel Corporation, which runs the Treadright Foundation to support communities, women, wildlife and environmental programs.

And while the "executive spenders" are a fairly new demographic for African Travel, Banda says it's not just the post-baby boomers fueling the rise in travel to the continent.

"Demand for Africa has increased exponentially across all ages in the last few years," he said, driven by travelers who have "become accustomed to traveling to new destinations such as the Galapagos, such as Vietnam  experiences that cannot be replicated in any other place."

And that, he says, is exactly African Travel's focus, helping agents curate personal itineraries for their clients that cannot be found elsewhere.

Increasingly that includes bush-to-beach trips that can include a traditional safari or mountain gorilla trek followed by a stay at a remote one-room beach resort in Zanzibar, Banda said.

African Travel can also develop Cape Town to Cairo trips, where travelers can go "from the very tip of Africa all the way up to Cairo and stop everywhere in between," he said.

The company's goal, Banda said, is to be a one-stop shop for agents looking to book such trips. With all of its planners having lived in or traveled extensively to Africa, he said they can work with agents and their clients to book highly personalized adventures.

"It is impossible for travel agents to know every destination in the world," he said. "Our goal is to make them look like rock stars."

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